Building a better future for young South Africans
20 May 2015
Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at the launch of the Freedom, Fairness & Opportunity Tour at Fort Hare University, Alice Campus.
Today, I embark on a tour of South Africa which we have titled the Freedom, Fairness & Opportunity Tour.
These three words – freedom, fairness and opportunity – are the core values that guide us in all we do as we work together with you to build a better tomorrow for all South Africans.
The purpose of this tour is to start a conversation about the DA’s new values charter that we adopted at our Federal Congress two weeks ago and that now serves as the preamble to the party’s Constitution. I will also be sharing our vision of a future South Africa, and engaging with South Africans about what their dreams, wishes and hopes for our country are.
I will be hosting town halls, street meetings and house meetings in every province. Our tour will culminate in the launch of the DA’s vision for South Africa on 13 June.
Fort Hare University is my very first stop on this tour, and I could not have chosen a more symbolic place than right here on your campus in Alice.
It is good to be here on the campus of Mandela, Tambo and Sobukwe.
There is a wind of change sweeping across the country. And it has been felt right here, on this campus, in the beautiful Eastern Cape.
When DASO swept to victory in the SRC elections here three weeks ago, the newspaper headlines made it sound like this was unexpected. We were told that this change of guard was totally against the run of play, and that we should all be shocked by the result.
But in reality, many saw this coming. We, in the DA, certainly saw it coming.
This wind of change didn’t start last month, or even last year. It has been building for some time now.
And make no mistake, the ANC saw this coming too. If they weren’t really nervous about the possibility of defeat, they would never have sent their big guns to come and campaign here.
When is the last time you saw ANC heavyweights like Cyril Ramaphosa, Malusi Gigaba and Fikile Mbalula deployed to a university campus to campaign for SRC elections? It has never happened.
The ANC saw the blue wave coming. And they were scared.
They realised exactly what was going to happen and they decided to deploy their big guns. But the students on this historic campus were not fooled. They know the ANC is not the party of tomorrow. They know which party is the true custodian of their future.
They know that DA is the party that can build a better future for all young South Africans.
And young South Africans are making choices that will make tomorrow better than yesterday.
Young South Africans are choosing Freedom that they can use.
They are choosing Fairness instead of a system of economic insiders and outsiders.
They are choosing Opportunity instead of hopelessness and unemployment.
They are choosing the future.
And together with these young South Africans, we will defeat the enemies of a better tomorrow: poverty, unemployment and inequality.
When I look at the faces here in front of me, I see myself. Not that long ago, I was your age. I found myself at university, with the world at my feet. I had no idea where my path in life would take me, but the future excited me.
Now I’m married, with a small family that means everything in the world to me. I find myself thinking about the future a lot, but in a different way.
Through my work and through my family, I am heavily invested in the future of our country. I know we simply have to make it work.
Soon, you will all go out into the world and beat your own path towards forging the future you dream of. Some of you will start families of your own. Some of you will start businesses. All of you will desperately want South Africa to succeed.
And that is what ties us together: we want the same thing for our beloved country. We want it to grow and prosper. We want it to be safe and peaceful. We want it to be dynamic and vibrant, a beacon of hope for the developing world.
A DASO victory at Fort Hare – with all its political history, with everything that ties this place to the ANC and its leaders – is a big moment for South Africa.
And let me tell you, DASO didn’t win the SRC election here by accident. This was no lucky fluke. DASO won at Fort Hare because they made it crystal clear that they understand the issues that really matter to the students of this campus.
DASO’s platform for the SRC election intersected with your hopes, dreams and wishes for the future.
Access to a tertiary education is one such issue. A lack of NSFAS funding is another such an issue. Meal allowances is another. Living conditions in residences is another. And spiralling class fees is yet another.
These are the things that affect the daily lives of students at Fort Hare. And these are the things that DASO has vowed to address for you. That is why you voted for DASO in your numbers, tripling its support from the previous SRC election.
One of the core values that underpins our vision for South Africa is that of Opportunity.
Every single person here has such an opportunity to make a life for themselves that is better than that of their parents.
By attending university, you have been given a pathway to a better future that so many of your peers will never have. It is up to you to make it work.
But what is tragic is that, even equipped with a university degree, you are not assured of finding a job when you graduate.
The ANC says they have a good story to tell. But the real story – the one they don’t want you thinking about – is that there were more jobs available before you started studying here than there will be when you graduate.
This is a tragedy.
Every year, more and more young South Africans are being shut out of our economy.
Here’s the real statistic that should make us sit up and pay attention: Of the 36% of South Africans who are unemployed, 67% are between the ages of 14 and 35. In other words, the youth accounts for two thirds of unemployed South Africans.
That’s people like you.
It’s time to stop talking about plans. It’s time for action. And the DA is committed to doing whatever it takes to grow our economy and create millions of jobs.
That will require change at national level. The kind of change that has occurred on this campus.
Change is coming to South Africa. And you can feel it here in the Eastern Cape.
There is a new generation here who want more, dream of more and insist on more.
There is a generation of young people in this province who have hopes and big plans for their future. And they know that if they don’t help change the path this country is on, those plans will come to nothing.
There is a generation of young people who have taken the responsibility upon themselves to break with tradition – to roll up their sleeves and build the future they want for themselves.
You are this generation. The students that voted for change on this campus are part of something big.
One day, when your children look back and relate the story of how change came to our country, yours will be a chapter that stands out.
My focus as Leader of my party is to install a government in the Union Buildings that will create the environment for growth and job-creation. A government that cares about building a better future for its country’s youth.
All of this is entirely within our reach. If we work together, we will make it happen.
Together, let’s build a better future.
Issued by the DA, May 20 2015